×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pigskin’s kicking in

Preseason football a boost for broadcasters

The last week of August saw a passing of the summer torch, as broadcasters picked up steam thanks to a larger serving of preseason pigskin while some of cable’s top shows wrapped their seasons.

CBS, NBC and Fox all benefited from football, with the Peacock logging the best numbers for an NFL exhibition game in three years. And ABC, a laggard in the ratings last week without football, will get a lift of its own from its college franchise “Saturday Night Football,” which bows this week.

On cable, TNT’s “The Closer” and USA’s “Royal Pains” went out strong last week, and HBO’s “True Blood” remained red hot with its penultimate seg of the season. And Disney Channel scored big with telepic “Wizards of Waverly Place Movie,” helping the net draw more primetime viewers than any other cabler for the week.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates, which include same-night DVR playback, CBS and NBC tied for the week’s lead among adults 18-49 with a 1.8 rating/6 share, followed by Fox (1.7/5), Univision (1.3/4), ABC (1.2/4) and USA (1.0/3).

The Eye also edged out the Peacock for the week’s bragging rights in both adults 25-54 (2.3/7 to 2.2/6) and total viewers (6.6 million to 6.4 million).

For CBS, all three episodes of “Big Brother” finished among the top 15 programs in key categories, led by Thursday’s elimination seg (2.7/9 in 18-49, 7.79m). But the net is not having any luck with its lone reality rookie, Sunday’s “There Goes the Neighborhood” (1.1/3, 3.68m).

The return of the NFL lifted the Eye, as games on Friday (2.1/7 in 18-49, 6.29m for New England-Washington) and Saturday (1.3/5, 4.15m for San Diego-Atlanta) gave the net its best performance of the summer on both nights.

At NBC, the “Sunday Night Football” preseason matchup between Chicago and Denver racked up the best numbers for any NFL exhibition contest (3.5/10 in 18-49, 10.38m) since a Philadelphia-Oakland matchup on NBC in 2006. Game marked the Denver return of former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, who was traded to the Bears in the spring.

The Peacock also appeared in the week’s top 5 program rankings with “America’s Got Talent” installments on Tuesday (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.46m) and Wednesday (3.0/8, 11.19m), with the former the week’s most-watched program overall.

Fox claimed the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49 for a second straight week with Tuesday’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.6/12 in 18-49, 7.77m), the frame’s only series to log a double-digit share.

Elsewhere, the net’s best results came courtesy of animated repeats “The Simpsons” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.22m) and “Family Guy” (2.4/6, 5.04m) and Thursday’s NFL preseason game between Miami and Tampa Bay (2.1/7, 5.80m), which won the night in under-50 categories.

ABC was led by Wednesday’s “Wipeout” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 7.63m), which led into OK results for the premiere of “Crash Course” (1.9/5, 4.82m). A pair of other rookie alternative series are doing well by summer standards: Sunday’s “Shark Tank” (1.8/5, 4.89m) and Tuesday’s “Shaq Vs.” (1.7/5, 4.14m).

But dragging the Alphabet net down are weak numbers for repeats of serialized scripted shows “Private Practice” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.04m), “Grey’s Anatomy” (0.8/2, 3.29m) and “Ugly Betty” (0.5/2, 1.89m).

CW’s broadcast of the “36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards” on Sunday drew the show’s lowest ratings to date (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.72m), but it did outperform the net’s weak averages on the night this summer.

Cable highlights for the week included Friday’s “Wizards of Waverly Place Movie” (2.3/8 in 18-49, 11.43m), the most-watched cable telecast of the year (Daily Variety, Aug. 31). It finished as primetime’s No. 1 show in persons 12-34 (3.8/16) and other key demos and finished a close second behind “America’s Got Talent” as the most-watched program of the week.

Subsequent airings of “Waverly” drew 5.8 million viewers on Saturday and 4.7 million more on Sunday.

Among series, TNT’s “The Closer” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 7.39m) and USA’s “Royal Pains” (1.7/5, 5.88m) went out with similar demo deliveries, with the former narrowly topping the latter to rule as cable’s No. 1 show for the frame in adults 25-54 (2.4/6). And Sunday’s “True Blood” rolled (2.8/7, 5.19m) prior to its Sept. 13 finale.

Lifetime rookie “Drop Dead Diva” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.41m) hit highs in women 18-49 (1.7/4) and women 25-54 (2.0/5), and Syfy’s “Ghosthunters” (1.3/4, 2.70m) ranked as cable’s No. 1 program in its Wednesday timeslot in 18-49 as well as key male demos.

Also, BET’s “Tiny and Toya” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.02m) and premiering “Frankie and Neffe” (1.0/3, 1.95m) ranked second in their Tuesday timeslot among femmes 12-34 (both 1.8/6), lagging only NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; TV Land’s “How’d You Get So Rich?” surged to series highs on Wednesday in both key demos and total viewers (771,000); and Bio Channel set a network premiere record Sunday with its third-season start of “I Survived” (573,000 viewers).

More TV

  • 'Fleabag' Season 2 Review: How Its

    'Fleabag': Season 2’s Top 10 Breaks From Reality, Ranked (Column)

    The searing first season of “Fleabag” felt like a complete story in and of itself. As adapted from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show, the series expanded on the world of a woman wild with lust and grief with such expert ease that by the time it ended, even Waller-Bridge herself was sure that it was the [...]

  • Richard Madden Says 'Game of Thrones'

    Richard Madden Says the 'Game of Thrones' Cast Deserves a Medal

    Richard Madden is thankful for his time on “Game of Thrones,” but is also happy to have been able to move on when he did. The “Bodyguard” star sat down with “Sharper Objects'” Amy Adams for Variety’s Actors on Actors, where he expressed some incredulity at the idea of spending so long with just one [...]

  • MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r)

    Submissions Now Welcome for Third 'Meet the Press' Film Festival

    Chuck Todd’s quest to bring “Meet the Press” to the movies continues. The third annual Meet the Press Film Festival, held in collaboration with the American Film Institute, will take place on October 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C., and remains a haven for issue-focused documentary shorts. Todd believes the event serves a critical mission: [...]

  • Winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song

    Netherlands' Duncan Laurence Wins 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

    Madonna’s controversial performance may have grabbed the headlines, but Duncan Laurence won the nearly four-hour-long 2019 Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands with the song “Arcade,” which he cowrote with Joel Sjöö and Wouter Hardy. Laurence won a total of 492 points from the expert juries and televoters in a contest that was touch and [...]

  • 'SNL' Cold Open Has Alec Baldwin's

    'SNL' Cold Open Has Alec Baldwin's Trump Rocking Out to Queen

    The cold open for the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” saw the Trump administration taking some liberties with a rock classic. Alec Baldwin returned as President Donald Trump, letting America know that he is going to be taking it easy now that summer is nearly here. He then said he was going to do [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content